Archive for the ‘photo repair’ Category
Low resolution digital photos can be restored but only as far as the pixels allow. Each image is made up from a collection of tiny pixels, all the colours and shades of the image made from small squares. If large areas of the image are blurred due to a dirty lens, or blurred due to movement of camera or subject, there has to be enough pixel information to correct the problem.
For an example I have included a 100 x 100 pixel image, (enlarged for this article) this is 10,000 pixels in all.
This image seems clear enough and you can make out the pixels very clearly.
Add some grease to the lens and now there is not much detail left . (simulated mobile phone image with and dirty lens)
It would be possible to copy and flip the helmet badge but there is no way an image this blurred can be sharpened or brought back into focus.
Mobile phone lenses are tiny, so any dust or grease that gets on the lens, would cover a larger part of that lens than if it were on a conventional camera, as a result it can blur a large part of the captured photo. Although this image is just 10,000 pixels it could easily be an enlarged head and shoulders section from a mobile phone group shot. No doubt that dust will be obscuring the one person in the photo you wanted to be perfect.
The lesson here is if you are taking mobile phone photos of an event that you must have a record of and you dont have a conventional camera, make sure your mobile phone lens is clean, very clean! If your images get blurred as a result of grease or dust like the above photo, there is very little that can be done.
Original photos are made from layers. Old black and white photos were often made from fibre based paper. The base papers themselves would have been made in paper mills and the top coating of light sensitive chemical based sulphates called “baryta” was then added to produce the photographic paper. Once exposed to light and developed the positive image is embedded in the “baryta” or emulsion. If this top layer gets damaged there is no way to build up the layer and replace it. You cannot add wax or pen or ink, nothing comes close to the original emulsion. If some of the fibres of the paper have come away, then what? These cannot be replaced either, you cannot simply glue down new ones! Even if it were possible to put back a blank filler into the hole, there is no way to reproduce the grain structure that was there in the original, or the subtle tones and shading of the original photo.
The same goes for colour photos, the resin or solid polyester top coat cannot be replaced with anything, It cannot be built up and restored. If there was a way to do this that was commercially available, there would not be so many digital photo restoration companies offering their digital restoration services today!
Sorry but it is not good news if own a damaged photo and want the original restored.
The only salvation may be that working in conjunction with a photo restoration artist, you can get a digital restoration done and then use that to help patch up the original. Of course this would only work if the paper texture and tone could be matched!
The question is, is it an original?
Genealogy and preserving photos isn’t new. The chances are somewhere in the family collection of old photos there are some that look a little smoother and shinier than the other, they still look old but just not as wrinkled.
Take a look at these carefully, can you see the scratches and creases, fold marks and tears but is the photo perfectly smooth? If so it is more likely to be a copy of an original. Unfortunately if this copy was made a while back when scanning technology was not so good, it may have been scanned with a first generation scanner and printed in a high street lab when photo labs were numerous, around the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s. The chances are the tonal range within the reprint has changed dramatically from the original.
If you can turn the photo over, on the back may be printed “Fuji” or “Agfa” or “Kodak” in a faded font but clear as day, the paper itself is kind of plastic and not really papery at all. Very old photos were printed on paper made from pulp, made up of many layers of fibers, plastic papers just don’t have these and should be easy to spot.
In scanning the tones would have been averaged by the scanner and then when reprinting, the machines would have averaged again and much of the mid tones would have been lost. When it comes to making a restoration of this for the third time around, bringing out the details and enhancing the photo and making the restoration, is going to be somewhat disappointing, than if it were direct from the original. The mid tones are what helps create shape and form to objects, the subtle shadows on some ones face,without these the photo will be just black and white and be very contrasty with little detail.
Lessons to learn here are, make sure that if you do end up making copies of old photos, make sure you still keep the original, no matter what state it is in! If you have to make a copy try to get it done professionally to ensure the maximum tonal range available, to allow for the best detail and best future photo restoration.